The Pro3 Line, Q2 2021
I can hear frogs awakening, buds are on the apple tree, and the grass has exploded back to its demanding high-maintenance mode.
Which really can only mean one thing, conference racing season is just around the next apex..,er corner. Soon, 2.5-liter 5-speed BMW E30s will snort to life and resume the cycle of circuits here in the sunny (!) Pacific Northwest—as PRO3 racing once again takes to the track. Conference, led by clear-eyed optimists and determined realists, has already published its full slate of the 2021 championship racing season (https://www.icscc.com/season. php) featuring eight racing weekends including seven doubles and the return of the Spokane TRIPLE June 4-6.
If the creek don’t rise, we’ll once again revel in the company of our northern neighbors both as guests and hosts when the border opens. We sorely missed their spirit and bodies in the abbreviated 2020 non-championship season. Well, all except for that one guy. So here’s to a healthy, competitive FULL season. One place that looks to be full is the PRO3 paddock. If the shuffling of cars and rumors swirling about during the last 12 months are any indication, another surge is coming. Since the 2020 season-that-wasn’t delayed the title defense by Mr. Bercovitz, everyone in the pointy end has had that much more time to prepare. Perhaps 2021 will finally see the match up of Tipton, Northrup, McAffer, Byers, Bercovitz, Peters, Lowell, Hovington—and who knows who else that we’ve all waited to see.
Of course, the stalwart veterans will flush out the grid—the Wellers, Kelloggs, Storgaards and so on. Crafty seasoned competitors willing to use guile and cunning to elbow their place in the finishing order. If the past is prelude, once again the paddocks of PRO3 will provide the most robust, populous, and animated grid around. The PRO3 Line Bill ‘Blue Baron’ Ecker and Jim ‘Croc Man’ Cissell Some long-term PRO3 cars will have new drivers this year—a hearty welcome and good luck to Fil Alleva, Scott Studerus, and Scott Ekert, driving the old 137, 42, 121 cars respectively. Long time alumnus Beef Wellington has moved off to unknown pastures, although one suspects he’ll be back before long in something fast with four wheels and a number. Long-timer Tim O’Donnell listed the 105 car—one of the oldest (but still among the fastest) PRO3 cars around, having passed through Bob Mearns and Parker McKean along the way.
But with 89 PRO3 cars still running, everybody’s got someone to race; hot youngsters with barely a season or two in PRO3 are clawing at the pace, now getting joined by fresh recruits in resurrected cars or cars moving around. There’s even rumors of new, fresh builds underway both in the U.S. and Canada. Based on the traffic on social media and forums, none of the cars for sale lasted more than a week or so before changing owners. So too, as it has always been, the rumors of the death of PRO3 were greatly exaggerated. Expect another year of outsized grids, pranks and hijinks at every race. Not to mention the green-to-checkers battles that are second to none.
Although IRDC has not released the official driver training schedule for 2021, furious plans are afoot to figure out how to continue to deliver quality instruction with masked social distancing restrictions in place. Stay tuned for more news on that. If you’re thinking of going out on track this season, check out HPDEs and licensing at:
With all the canceled classes, there’ll be a backlog trying to get in. And would-be racers who’ve had to wait this long are bound to get a little twitchy. The ongoing PRO3 movie project is still afoot. The latest dispatch from the lines reads, “The documentary film “PRO3 E30: A Northwest Racing Legend” continues to grow. We finished the trailer back in December. You can see it at https://vimeo.com/486663675.
Director Dave Krygier and the postproduction team are hard at work assembling the director’s cut, which is in final edit, and is planned for release in April 2021. The GoFundMe site should be back in operation by March 5—https: //bit.ly/2UU4ufQ.To truly convey the excitement and fun that is PRO3, we need to raise another $5,000 to shoot another 2-3 days of racing action—hopefully without masks. We plan to finish the 22-minute broadcast version later this year. Dave says we’ll then have enough for a 90-minute version if we choose to go there. Thanks for all your support.
Now, a few parting words from your faithful reporter. After an amazing six years in the paddock, driving these cars and being a part of this amazing collection of folk, I, Bill Ecker, will be assuming new and different roles at the track, which won’t include PRO3. So I will hand in my pen and turn the torch over to Jim. It has been an amazing journey, from the first race in Portland all those years ago, to Laguna Seca among a throng of 15 PRO3 cars celebrating BMW’s 100th Anniversary, to a Kevin Doyle champagne shower following an improbable victory in the Oregon rain. It has been a journey of a thousand steps, made with good spirits and great people.
You won’t be rid of me, however. Among other things, I was nominated (recruited) (begged) (coerced) to become ICSCC license director, to facilitate getting new drivers onto the grid and prevent unqualified ones from getting there. So, I will be at every race. Missing rubbing paint with my pals in PRO3, but enjoying the show. Thanks for the welcome and the camaraderie. Nunc est Bibendum!